Chicken Cordon Bleu For When Mama’s Fried Chicken Needs A Night Off

March 5, 2024

Chicken cordon bleu is surprisingly easy to whip up on a weeknight, yet can easily hold its own as the main course at your next dinner party. Crispy, cheesy, and deeply satisfying, this retro recipe deserves a standing spot in your recipe rotation.

Although this dish is more involved than just throwing a chicken breast in the oven, the flavor payoff is well worth the extra effort. Plus, once you get one bundle made, the rest come together very easily. To make the dish even easier, start with store-bought chicken cutlets (you can ask your butcher to cut them for you), pre-sliced deli ham, and pre-sliced (or even grated!) Swiss cheese.

Learn how to make chicken cordon bleu, and surprise yourself with this “fancy” dish made easy.

Why Is It Called Chicken Cordon Bleu?

I was shocked to discover that chicken cordon bleu was not named after the French-founded culinary school of the same name. Le Cordon Bleu (the cooking school) was named after a knighted order of French nobility that came to be known for their lavish banquets. Upon being knighted, each member was pinned with a blue ribbon (le cordon bleu) which became synonymous with culinary excellence.

Owing to that grand tradition, chicken cordon bleu is a “fancy” chicken recipe wherein ham and cheese are wrapped in a thinly pounded chicken breast which is then breaded and fried until the chicken is crispy and the cheese is perfectly melty. Trust me—it’s quite the delight!

Ingredients for Chicken Cordon Bleu

The list of ingredients for this chicken cordon bleu recipe is fairly short, even shorter if you skip the dijonnaise. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are rolled thinner so they can easily hold the ham and cheese filling.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper: For seasoning.
  • Swiss cheese: A classic cheese in chicken cordon bleu.
  • Ham: We developed this recipe to use up leftover holiday ham, but you can use deli ham if you don’t have the leftovers.
  • All-purpose flour: Helps the breadcrumbs adhere to the outside of the chicken.
  • Egg: For a quick egg wash so the breadcrumbs stick.
  • Panko breadcrumbs: These breadcrumbs cook up nice and crispy without absorbing too much oil.
  • Canola oil: For pan frying the chicken.

For the Herby Dijonnaise, you’ll need mayonnaise, sour cream, herbs, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

How To Make Chicken Cordon Bleu

The full recipe is further below, but here’s a quick guide to making chicken cordon bleu:

  • Step 1. Prepare the chicken: Start with chicken breasts that have been pounded thin. If you can’t find cutlets at your grocery store, you can cut small chicken breasts in half horizontally, place them between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap, then pound them to about 1/4-inch thick. 
  • Step 2. Fold ham and cheese into chicken: Season the pounded chicken, then top each piece with sliced cheese and ham, placing the slices in the center of the chicken. Fold the ends of the chicken over to enclose the filling, like folding a letter in thirds. Secure the wrapped bundles with wooden picks.
  • Step 3. Coat chicken in breadcrumbs: Set up a dredging station with separate bowls of flour, beaten eggs, and panko breadcrumbs. Working with one bundle at a time, dredge in flour, dip in egg, then coat with panko.
  • Step 4. Cook: Fry the breaded chicken in batches in hot oil until golden brown; transfer to a a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 350°F until cooked through, about 7 minutes.

What To Serve With Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken cordon bleu is usually served with a rich cream sauce. We speed things up with an Herby Dijonnaise (recipe below) for a fresh take on the traditional sauce.

Beyond the sauce, chicken cordon bleu really doesn’t need more than a great green side salad, but you might also want to consider , , Mashed , or .

How To Store Chicken Cordon Bleu

Store chicken cordon bleu leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To avoid a soggy coating, reheat the leftovers in the oven or an air fryer until warmed through. You can use the microwave in a pinch, but the breadcrumbs will likely be mushy.

What Makes This Chicken Cordon Bleu Special?

There are a lot of chicken cordon bleu recipes out there, but this is one of our favorites thanks to one special ingredient—leftover ham. While deli ham will work in a pinch, the sweet-savory punch of flavor from leftover Honey-Baked Ham takes this dish up a huge notch. It’s the perfect recipe for when you’ve got leftover ham use up, but you don’t think you could possibly eat ham again. This recipe will make you change your mind.

Editorial contributions by Josh Miller.

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

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